AMAC In The Media / Opinion / Politics / Press Releases

Study Shows That Too Many American Adults Don’t Know The Symptoms of a Heart Attack, says AMAC

heart health basicsWASHINGTON, DC, Nov 29 — New research shows that some 13.5 million adults in the U.S. could not identify a single symptom of a heart attack — not even that chest pains are an obvious sign of a cardiac event.

The study was conducted for a recent scientific gathering sponsored by the American Heart Association [AHA].  It was based on findings of data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control in a massive 2017 National Health Interview Survey among more than 25,000 U.S. adults.

According to the AHA, “About 805,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, and about 15% of them die from it. Because early intervention is so critical, health officials have spent decades trying to improve public knowledge of heart attack symptoms and the appropriate emergency response.”

Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC], notes that cardiovascular disease is of particular concern for seniors.  “The American College of Cardiology says that more than a million American adults will have a cardiac event this year and that the average age of heart attack victims is 65.6 years for men and 72 years for women.  It’s as you get older it is critical to be aware of the symptoms so that you can get help quickly.”

However, according to Harvard Medical School about 45% heart attacks are what is known as silent heart attacks.  “They are described as “silent” because when they occur, their symptoms lack the intensity of a classic heart attack, such as extreme chest pain and pressure; stabbing pain in the arm, neck, or jaw; sudden shortness of breath; sweating, and dizziness.”

These silent myocardial infarctions (SMI) are more common in men than in women.  And, because the symptoms of SMIs can be so mild, its victims can readily ignore them, attributing them to the aches and pains of old age, for example.

“It’s a good reason to get regular checkups, especially as you get on in years,” suggests AMAC’s Weber.  Meanwhile, the Harvard report on SMIs, recommends that if you experience suspicious discomfort, whatever the reason, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

According to that report, “suspicious discomfort” includes:

  • Discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts several minutes or goes away and comes back. It can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or pain.
  • Discomfort in other upper-body areas, such as one or both arms, the back, the neck, the jaw, or the stomach.
  • Shortness of breath before or during chest discomfort.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat or feeling nauseated or lightheaded.


The Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC] [], with 2 million members, is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members.  We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today.  Live long and make a difference by joining us today at

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC News App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
R. Gene Fambrini
3 years ago

Isn’t elevated blood pressure also a sign that one may be having a cardiac event? Also, I have heard that a person may feel that his/her ears and head get warm or feel a severe headache coming on. Maybe I am describing stroke symptoms, which is something you might also cover for your readers.

Glenn Lego
3 years ago

I feel nauseated after reading the news about the Democrats and how they are treating the president.

Jay A.
3 years ago
Reply to  Glenn Lego

They truly are a pain, but in the butt not the chest!

R owens
3 years ago
Reply to  Glenn Lego

Vote Republican no matter what happens

3 years ago

Surveys have to be take with a grain of salt. And never should be accepted blindly. I doubt many people associate “silent myocardial infarction” with heart attack that don’t have some minor medical knowledge. Most magazines including readers digest from time to time run articles covering heart attacks. “Silent myocardial infarction” is just not a lay term used in family discussions. I think a more interesting and more important survey would be: What would you do if you witnessed someone collapse clutching their chest ? Unless this event occurred in the lobby of a hospital or in front of a health care provider or while you’re with a friend odds are people will walk over you or around you but not help you. Thanks to cell phones someone may call 911 as they walk away. Better than doing nothing……

Glenn Lego
3 years ago
Reply to  LTC S

You mean you didn’t sit around the thanksgiving day table and discuss silent myocardial infarction? ?

3 years ago
Reply to  Glenn Lego

I, my wife and both daughters are registered nurses and it didn’t come up.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x